Keith Haring’s iconography of silhouetted figures, pointy-eared dogs, swelling hearts and televisions — produced in an instantly recognizable style of heavy black outlines filling jumbled compositions — is synonymous with the Pop Art and street culture of the 1980s.
That was the milieu in which he worked until his early death in 1990 at age 31 due to AIDS-related complications. His cartoonish scenes have remained highly visible expressions of his homosexuality, his concerns about society’s increasing dependence on technology and frank representations of social injustice at a time when these issues were just surfacing in public debate.
The Keith Haring: 1978-1982 exhibition, now at Contemporary Art Center through Sept. 5 and curated by CAC Director Raphaela Platow, is a look at Haring’s early years. The CAC show — co-organized by Vienna’s Kunsthalle Wien — is the exhibit’s first (and so far only) scheduled U.S. stop. It shows and tells stories of how Haring’s rigorous art practice evolved into his well-known style and also how that practice fit into his broader community efforts as performer, curator, poster designer and activist.
Keith Haring: 1978-1982 continues through Sept. 5 at the Contemporary Arts Center. Go here to read Matt Morris' full review.